Post and photos by Philippa Langrish
The best day trips from Manila
There are lots of things to do in Manila with kids but sometimes we all need to escape the city, whether you’re a long-term Manila resident or just visiting The Philippines with your family. Fortunately there are numerous great destinations near metro Manila that can be visited as a day trip (many can be extended for a weekend getaway from Manila, too). Here are some of my favourite day trips and weekend escapes from the capital.
Day Trips from Manila Journey Times: At a glance
- Enchanted Kingdom: 40 mins
- Island Cove: 45 mins
- Republ1c Wake Park. 1.5 hours
- Fun Farm Sta. Elena: 1.5 hours
- Hidden Valley Springs: 2 hours
- Pinto Art Museum: 2 hours
- Tagaytay Highlands & Sky Ranch: 2 hours
- SUP in Lake Taal (2 – 3 hours)
- Subic Bay Zoo (3 hours)
- Pico de Loro (2-3 hours)
- Daranak Falls (2.5 hours)
- Trek Mount Pinatubo (3 hours)
- Laiya Beach (3 – 4 hours)
** All journey times are approximate
1. Have a Ball at Enchanted Kingdom
Enchanted Kingdom is a little gem of a theme park about 40 minutes from metro Manila in Laguna. There is so much to do for kids as young as two years. We took my daughter (age four) and her two friends (ages four and five). While the whole family loved the Logg Jamm and Swinging Chairs, the dads took themselves on the rollercoaster (five times in a row!). Read more about visiting Enchanted Kingdom as a day trip here.
2. Cool off at Island Cove
Island Cove is a Mediterranean inspired water park (called Oceania), wildlife park, and fishing village all rolled into one. It’s the perfect place to visit if you want to escape the heat of the scorching summer months in Manila. There are slides, fountains, a huge swimming pool and…water slides! In the wildlife park you can see ostriches, snakes, crocodiles and iguanas as well as other native animals. There’s a restaurant on site and, all in all, it makes for a very easy family day out. Find out more about visiting Island Cove from Manila as a day trip here.
3. Get Your Thrills at Republ1c Wake Park
Republ1c Wake Park in Laguna is a great day out if you are up for learning a new sport or are a seasoned wake board pro. Although our three-year-old Maya could not participate she had a good time watching the “wakers” flying past and jumping off the water ramps. If you are travelling with children aged 10+ this is an excellent activity for them. Get them started on a knee board and they will soon be addicted. There is a learner cable and an advanced cable to choose from. Find out more about visiting Republ1c Wake Park, Laguna as a day trip from Manila here.
4. Have Fun at the Fun Farm!
Fun Farm Sta Elena is my all time favourite place to take little ones for an out of town trip. There are so many hands on activities for the children to benefit from. From scrambling over disused tractors, feeding bunnies and guinea pigs, to learning how to fish, taking a boat ride and riding around the grounds on a horse or Carabao drawn cart. There is even an obstacle course and zip line. The animals are really well cared for and the overall atmosphere is incredibly relaxed. It’s a wonderful day out from the capital! Find out more about this visiting Fun Farm Sta Elena as a day trip here.
5. Take a Dip in Hidden Valley Springs
Less than two hours drive from Manila, in the province of Laguna, lies Hidden Valley Springs. This tropical rainforest paradise is located off the beaten track, in the town of Calauan, and is accessed down a winding road. There are many spa resorts in Laguna but I think Hidden Valley tops them with its pure natural setting. The natural springs and waterfalls are surrounded by lush vegetation, including approximately 153 species of plant life and towering Amlang trees reported to be more than 300 years old. Six natural pools can be enjoyed. They include two shallow kiddie pools, one natural Jacuzzi and a secluded lovers pool. The pools are relatively shallow and not too hot.
Geology lovers will adore discovering the history of the springs. It is believed that hundreds of centuries ago, a 300-feet deep crater was formed during a volcanic upheaval (Hidden Valley is wedged betwwen Mount Makiling and Mount Banahaw). Consequently, more than a hundred natural springs of varying temperatures surfaced, composed of pure mineral waters that are said to be medicinal and rejuvenating. Find out more about visiting Hidden Valley as a day trip here.
6. Get Arty at the Pinto Art Museum
The Pinto Gallery is a great destination for families with children. Set in the hills overlooking Manila, Antipolo has fresh air, great views and an altogether more laid back vibe than its bustling big sister Manila. The gallery itself is a work of art with lofty ceilings, oodles of natural light, indiscriminate pieces of modern art and delightful sculptures, all surrounded by lush, tropical greenery. The museum’s overall mission is to champion the conservation of nature, education of the Filipino people, and open doors for talented artists. Find out more about visiting the Pinto Art Gallery as a day trip from Manila here.
7. Visit the Tagaytay Highlands
Escape the city with a day trip to the Tagaytay Highlands, best known for the spectacular Taal Volcano. This mystical volcano sits in the middle of a lake and, if you’re travelling with children aged 8 years and older, you can take a boat to the volcano and go for a hike. Be careful though, it is the second most active volcano in The Philippines with 33 historical eruptions! If that sounds like too much hard work, you can admire the view from one of the many hillside eateries instead. Nearby is Sky Ranch, a fun treat for kids. Find out more about visiting the Tagaytay Highlands as a day trip here.
8. Take to the Water on a SUP
Stand Up Paddle Boarding has proved a tremendous family activity for us in the Philippines. Our two children are still too young to try it on their own but we have fun as a family paddling with the kids on-board. We regularly travel to Lake Taal to spend the day on the water. It’s a fun way to work out while being treated to the spectacular views of Taal volcano, Tagaytay city, and the charming local houses of Wawa, Tanauan which speckle the shore. Being on the lake gives you a whole new perspective of the area as you drift past fisherman, islands and coves. Find out more about visiting Lake Taal as a day trip from Manila here.
9. Walk with the Animals in Subic Bay
About three hours drive from Manila is Subic Bay, a strange mishmash of burgeoning tourism and the remnants of American military presence. The bay is dotted with navy ships, while the main strip glitters with newly refurbished bars and restaurants. We went to escape the city and to discover Zoobic, an excellent animal safari. The three-hour tour is informative and lots of fun and there are plenty of opportunities to interact with the animals. Our intrepid three-year-old couldn’t wait to get involved; holding a python, handling an owl and riding a pony. The interactive and conservation spirit of Zoobic will have your kids thoroughly entertained and informed of all creatures great and small.
10. Hit the Beach at Pico de Loro
Pico de Loro is one of the closest beache resorts to Manila and is a great option for families. There are easy hikes for kids in the area and a brown but clean sandy beach (with toilets and showers). Our children spent hours splashing in the waves, swimming in the sea and playing on the sand. We have also visited and stayed overnight at the Pico Sands Hotel, which gives you more time at the beach! FInd out more about visiting Pico de Loro as a day trip here.
11. Swim Under Daranak Falls
Located in Tanay, Rizal, just a couple of hours from Manila are these 14-metre high waterfalls. We visited Daranak Falls for the day with a group of my daughter Maya’s school friends and had a wonderful day out. Positioned at the foot of the foot of the Tanay mountains and surrounded by lush, jungly vegetation, it makes for a beautiful escape from the city, particularly during the hot summer months. Find out more about visiting Daranak Falls as a day trip here.
12. Trek Mount Pinatubo
In 1991 Mount Pinatubo erupted causing huge Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon, 55 miles northwest of Manila. The volcano last erupted in June 1991 and was one of the most destructive eruptions of the 20th century. Today Mt Pinatubo is a safe place to visit and within volcano’s crater is a beautiful lake with crystal clear waters.
Trekking Mt Pinatubo is a hugely popular activity and one that I would highly recommend, although it is probably best suited to older children due to the early start and the bumpy jeep ride across the ash fields. That said, I do know a few families who have enjoyed this trek with toddlers in backpacks. Find out more about visiting Mt Pinatubo as a day trip here.
13. Break for the Ocean at Laiya Beach
If you are in need of a beach fix and do not want to fly or go by boat then Laiya Beach is your best beach option near Manila. It’s located on the coast of South Luzon and is a three- to four-hour drive from Manila. The beach is clean and tranquil (unlike most of the other resorts in Batangas) and our daughter was happy to play in the sand and splash in the shallow waters. Find out more about visiting Laiya Beach as a day or weekend trip from Manila here.
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